The Bottom Line
There are some particular perceptions among many non-Linux users that in order to use Linux one must be
- Willing to resort to the command line to accomplish mundane tasks
- A computer science major
- Able to find and rely on others to use their own system
While I disagree with these views on the whole, I think there is a degree of merit provided one applies a more level-headed tone to the rhetoric; instead of discussing that I’d like to consider why these perceptions exist. I propose that a major cause is the vast fragmentation of the Linux platform.
While Linux fragmentation offers truly — without exaggeration — unparalleled freedom of choice when it comes to customizing one’s computing interface and workflow, this can make offering help to any individual through their particular GUI very cumbersome. Consequently, the terminal becomes the common denominator since there are only a few common Linux filesystem layouts in use by the various distributions and the GNU Core Utilities can be assumed to be installed on any Linux system. This makes offering terminal commands the most direct approach for most people offering assistance to others, and this helps bolster the aforementioned perceptions: if everyone is receiving help through terminal commands, surely this is the only way to fix these problems.
The best we can do is accept that some people will feel this way and attempt to educate them on the benefits of computing diversity and choice; whether this is important to them or not is their choice, and perhaps they’ll come around to appreciating this diversity.
Keep reading for a more thorough analysis.